I'd planned to review quite different books in this column. I picked up an attractive pile, but found them disappointing.

The most promising was a new novel by Graham Greene: Monsignor Quixotem (Simon & Schuster, $14.50). I opened it, read a few pages, and found myself in a remote Spanish village, enclosed in the world of a master storyteller. But the spell didn't last. The story degenerated into a not very lively theological debate between a priest and a Communist. Cervantes was banished from the scene.

A new biography of John Ruskin, The Wider Seam by John Dixon Hunt (New York: The Viking Press, $25) was another disappointment. The author gives no reason why we should care about a not very interesting account of the Victorian artist and critic. Readers caught up in the current fad for all things Victorian, however, might want to read Ruskin's own books.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of 5 free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.